Lotmead Villages, Swindon

Unable to meet its development needs wholly within the existing urban areas, Swindon is breaking the concrete collar that has long constrained the town’s expansion. Development has been tightly bound by the A419 dual carriageway, but the hard suburban edge is set to be breached through an ambitious growth agenda that includes five strategic urban extensions. Planit’s proposals for Lotmead Villages form the first of these, and one of the UK’s largest urban extensions.

A scattering of attractive villages beyond the grip of the A491 boundary formed the starting point for our long-term vision to achieve balanced and inclusive growth. It was these communities that prompted the question ‘What makes a good village?’

We undertook comprehensive research to determine how these conurbations embraced the distinctive assets of the wider rural landscape setting, to identify their unique characteristics and examine their sense of place. The same query was posed within a national and international context, drawing on best practice examples of Urban Design and placemaking across the UK and Europe to draw out common threads. Our conclusions of the Townscape and Precedent Study set out the elements that combine to create a place where people aspire to live, and consequently form the design cues for the Lotmead Villages proposals.

Our research, evidence-based methodology formed the starting point for the two village concept. Each village has its own local centre and a Primary School, and collectively they provide 2,600 homes. We introduced focal points for activity, a walkable (and cycle friendly) network of streets and connections to existing settlement. The proposals were influenced by the landscape context, incorporate innovative and sustainable design, whilst creating distinctive neighbourhoods.

Lotmead Villages are based on the site of an existing farm and pick-your-own business. The business cluster and a Scheduled Ancient Monument created a logical star point for the spatial organization of the village set within a strong rural landscape. A contemporary approach was taken to the creation of Lower Lotmead, utilising best practice urban design principles to create a sensitive urban/rural transition. The proposals have been embraced by the local stakeholders, and are acknowledged as fundamental to supporting the economic growth of Swindon and its sub regional context.


A bold plan to create a resort of national significance and with it a sustainable economic legacy for the island of Anglesey, Penrhos Leisure Village centres around a vast tract of coastline and within it, a collection of refurbished former estate buildings.

Facilities include 300 new homes; 700 lodges and cottages; indoor sports areas; an enclosed subtropical waterpark and shops selling local island produce, plus a number of high quality walking and cycle routes set within the fabric of the Penrhos Coastal Park.


Initially appointed in 2005 to prepare public realm design guidance for the £5.5 billion regeneration of 120Ha of Liverpool’s Northern Docks, we have since produced a variety of key documents that will shape this new City District. Amongst them is the Building Characterisation and Precedents Study (BCPS) – examining not just the project proposals but its world-wide ambitions and the very DNA of the city itself.

One of the largest approvals within a World Heritage Site anywhere in the world, our work has set the bar for the Liverpool Waters project and, in turn, for the northward growth of the city centre over the next 30 years.

  • Before-Liverpool Waters Masterplan
    After-Liverpool Waters Masterplan
    OutlineLiverpool Waters MasterplanEmerging


Princes Dock Neighbourhood Plan, Liverpool

Princes Dock is a historic dock, located north of the Pier Head and the Three Graces, adjacent to the River Mersey and the central business district of Liverpool City Centre. Its neighbourhood masterplan is the first to come forward as part of the Liverpool Waters planning permission.

The Princes Dock Neighbourhood Masterplan is the result of 12 months consultation involving a consortium of developers, designers and local stakeholders. A condition of the original Liverpool Waters outline consent, the masterplan aims to create a comprehensive, yet flexible approach to the future development of Princes Dock. This is a dynamic document proposes an approach to development within Princes Dock at a point in time whilst retaining the ability to respond to any future contextual challenges or influences.

The Neighbourhood Masterplan creates a spatial framework for future development within the dock. The design principles and guidance within the document are not a substitute for design talent and do not impose a particular architectural style, however it does set a baseline of minimum requirements for future development. New development is expected to comply with the guidance. Where a proposal does not, then substantial justification for deviation from the guidance will be required to explain, how or why it differs and what additional spatial, environmental or community benefits that may bring.

Several buildings already existing within the dock boundaries, and some buildings have planning permission and are due to start on site, therefore the masterplan document presents proposals for the remaining developable areas and how they should relate to the existing development, the wider city and future Liverpool Waters neighbourhoods to the north of the site. The structure of this document follows that mix of existing, consented, emerging and future proposals which make up the status of Princes Dock.

Linen Quarter Vision, Belfast

Planit-IE has been working towards the vision for a significant Conservation Area within Belfast City Centre – the Linen Quarter. The Quarter represents an important area of growth within the City Centre, building on impressive historic built form which is becoming the home for a large number of offices, supported by the introduction of a number of exciting new bars, cafes and hotels. The quarter also represents a key point of arrival for tourists, visitors, city workers and locals – setting the need to guide new development sites and control the reuse of historic buildings towards a common vision for the Quarter which also meets the aspirations of the wider Belfast City Centre.

The Linen Quarter Vision and Guidance document now forms a significant piece of guidance for the City Council to assess development proposals against the vision for the area. The work assesses how to best use the Conservation Area’s current qualities; exploring ways to consolidate and enhance its role as the premier office destination within Belfast and continue to provide a strong sense of arrival. The document also introduces new public spaces; redefines streets and promotes a different street hierarchy; and enhances the area’s important built heritage, and provides guidance relating to new buildings and their associated public realm.

The document is available to view online at: http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/buildingcontrol-environment/regeneration/linenquarter.aspx


This dynamic vision for Liverpool lays the foundation for the ‘big ideas’ that will transform the city over the next 15 years.

Working together with Deloitte and Martin Stockley, we undertook an in depth assessment of Liverpool through a series of ‘City Conversations’. The outcome of these led to the formulation of an investment-driven vision for the built environment, public realm and infrastructure  – seven ‘major transformational projects’ including the pivotal  ‘Great Streets Initiative’.

Colworth Park Vision, Bedfordshire

The Colworth Estate wraps around the listed Hall and Colworth Science Park, one of the many research facilities operated by Unilever. The classical manor estate and parkland setting has provided a prosperous environment for innovation and business and, fueled by the ripple effect of London’s housing pressure, now offers a unique opportunity to link in the establishment of a distinctive sustainable community that could not be delivered anywhere else in Bedfordshire.

As part of the review of the local plan to 2032, Bedford Borough Council invited submissions from several developers who are promoting new settlement proposals as a means of accommodating future housing growth. Wrenbridge and Unilever jointly commissioned Planit-IE, supported by a comprehensive team of consultants, to produce a future vision that would form the core of their representation to the Council.

The document captures both the Colworth of today and the vision for its future. The development proposal comprises a sustainable new settlement, adjacent to the existing village of Sharnbrook to the north-west of Bedford, with a new rail station providing a 1 hour commute to the City.

Three new villages, each with their own distinctive character, will combine to provide 4,500 dwellings centered around mixed-use hubs. The community focus and facilities will comprise a secondary school; primary schools; retail, leisure and business uses; additional employment land; formal and informal open play space including allotments and playing fields; and new access roads directly on to the A6.

Colworth sits within a strong and well-established green infrastructure framework. This framework defines the landscape character, and shapes views into and out from the site. The close proximity of some of the most beautiful Bedfordshire villages provides an interesting and rich design narrative from which to craft a new place. The development proposals seek to protect and enhance these assets, ensuring the unique identity of Colworth is retained and matures into a robust and sustainable community.

Surf Snowdonia, Dolgarrog

Give us a pioneering Client, a challenging site where nothing else would seem to work, to design and construct something nobody has ever built… It would appear this is the perfect blend for success.

The project has come together relatively quickly, yet the team had been looking at options for the site for over three years. The introduction of Wavegarden to the equation was a game-changer – as it has been for Dolgarrog and North Wales. This is not another cheap and cheerful water park – it is a world-class surfing facility, generating the perfect 2m high wave, day in day out, all year round, catering for beginners and experts alike. We have had many projects on the books but this is one of the most exciting and is in closes harmony with our core values. We can’t wait to get the wet-suits on and start surfing!’

The site of the former aluminium works in Dolgarrog had lain derelict since 2006, when the Ainscough Group purchased it. Although the site had an open mixed-use local plan policy relating to it, numerous feasibility studies for lodge and outdoor recreation uses had floundered, and it was clear the creation of a national tourist destination would be required to make it viable. The  sensitive setting, close to the Snowdonia National Park boundary, made a landscape-led approach the obvious way forward. The site sits within the flood plain of the River Conwy, and this combined with the challenging ground conditions, drove the masterplan proposals and ultimately the disposition of uses across the site. The client’s brief was for no material to leave or be brought to the site, hence the need to design the scheme in 3-dimensions from the outset.

Having researched the world leisure market, the team came across the ‘Wavegarden’. The Wavegarden© concept was developed over a period of seven years by a group of Hydrological, Civil and Mechanical Engineers – who also happen to be passionate surfers. R&D investment totalling €7m led to the construction of a full-sized prototype in Northern Spain which was tested by some of the Pro-Tour’s greatest surfers, to rapturous approval. CGIs produced by Virtual Planit played an important role is demonstrating how the new surf lagoon would be integrated into its rural setting.

The Wavegarden© at Surf Snowdonia is the first publicly-accessible surf lagoon up and running in the world. Projects are being developed across the globe from locations as diverse as Barcelona; Berlin; Australia and… Hawaii. The new technology immediately opened up the opportunity to host competitions and gave credence to the bid for surfing to be included as an Olympic sport.

Our Client has real vision and genuine passion for the project, yet every decision made has been grounded in commercial reality.

Manchester Residential Quality Guide

What will Manchester look like in 10 or 20 years time? Given the ambition for the growth of the City and its surrounding towns, it is vital to match that aspiration with where the great majority of the growing population is likely to live; in the centre.

The Manchester Residential Quality Guidance has been developed to help shape the creation of new homes and communities across the Greater Manchester city region, beginning with the centre and its immediate surroundings. Manchester City Council are planning for the delivery of over 25,000 new homes within the decade. This ambitious quantum of development is equally matched by the Council’s desire to achieve quality of development and place.

So how do you guide the big picture, but make sure you follow through to the detail? In our minds, by first researching what are the ‘ingredients’ that contribute to residential quality. The Guidance complements existing policy and legislation; with the overarching aim of ensuring quality is prevalent throughout the design, delivery and use. Whilst setting clear quality benchmarks associated with the planning, design, construction and future management of new residential development, a ‘comply or justify’ approach is adopted to support innovation and new thinking. So, unlike London’s guidance which is all about SPACE standards, Manchester’s is about PLACE standards – you may have a smaller apartment, but it’s levels of daylight and volume, coupled with the view from the bedroom window, make it a better place than perhaps its larger neighbour with poor views and mean windows.

An outward looking and engaged city, Manchester has always drawn on international references in support of its vision to be one of world’s best place to live. Extensive research into other UK and international cities and their guidance informed development of our work -, reinforcing Manchester’s unique fabric and character through the city-specific application of lessons–learnt. Sustainable outcomes that uphold ‘Manchester: A Certain Future’, the City’s climate change action plan, also work towards a low carbon future.

Typical of the Mancunian’s independent nature, the guide steers away from a tick box conformity culture. Addressing considerations missing from precedents, Manchester’s Residential Quality Guide tackles post-planning elements such as construction, value engineering (in its truest sense!) and property management that determine long-term success and value.

The design, delivery and management of new neighbourhoods will influence the character and identity of the city for generations to come but also, and importantly, shape the communities developing within them. This guidance begins by making sure those changing the city fabric have asked themselves the fundamental questions before embarking on the detail.

Through the Steering Group’s links, the guidance is already seeing national recognition through the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

The Residential Quality Guide can be found at: http://www.manchester.gov.uk/downloads/download/6682/residential_quality_guide

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